Men wearing protective masks sit inside a bus that will take them to a quarantine facility, amid concerns about the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Nizamuddin area of New Delhi, India, March 31, 2020. Image Credit: Reuters

New Delhi: At least 24 people staying at Markaz building in Nizamuddin area of the national capital have tested positive for coronavirus, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Monday.

"All of them are being screened. We are not certain of the number but it is estimated that 1,500-1,700 people had assembled at the Markaz building. 1,033 people have been evacuated so far - 334 of them have been sent to the hospital and 700 sent to quarantine centre. Total 24 positive cases have been found so far," he said while speaking to reporters here. It must be noted that the congregation was held from March 13 to 15, before 21-day lockdown came into effect.

Earlier, the Delhi government had said: "It has come to our knowledge that administrators of Nizammuddin Markaz violated coronavirus lockdown conditions and now several positive cases have been found. Strong action would be taken against those in charge of this establishment. Delhi government will ask the police to register an FIR against Maulana of Markaz, Nizamuddin."

The Markaz released a statement saying that visitors/guests/devotees/worshippers from across the globe "throng the place for pre- scheduled programs lasting for no more than 3-5 days. All the programmes are decided a year in advance in order to facilitate visitors from far-off places to plan their participation. When Hon’ble Prime Minister announced the 'Janta Curfew', for March 22, the ongoing programme in Markaz Nizamuddin was discontinued immediately, however due to sudden cancellation of rail services across the country on March 21, 2020, a large group of visitors who had to depart by way of railways got stuck in the Markaz premises."